Posts Tagged ‘Career Change’

Turning On Your Success Faucet

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution type of person. For me it runs much deeper. I set “Intentions” that are based upon my deeper life goals. My intentions form the basis of my decisions when choosing which tool I will select from my inner toolbox and how I will employ it as I make choices all year long. When faced with a decision, I ask myself, “What choice takes me closer to my goal? Does this align with my intention?” You should know that these are not ordinary goals; they are the heart-filled keys to my success. Success that starts in my inner world and is mirrored in my outer success.

Many of my clients come to me saying, “I don’t know what I want to do next. I just know it’s not what I’ve been doing.” These are executives and professionals with many of the trappings of externally based success. What they are seeking is more than just a new job, they are looking for satisfaction, a sense of meaning from what they do – I call it inner success. In my experience, nearly every one of them does know, deep inside, what it is they want to do, they simply need some help in the excavation work. And when they tap into this inner success, it shines brightly in their external success.

In the process of digging deeply into this tomb where our desires have been buried, we start with the question “What do you want? No, I mean REALLY want!” When I first asked myself this question, I realized that the part of me I’ve come to call my Wanter was broken. Long ago, I had learned how to determine what was available to me and then make myself seem happy with whatever crumb was offered, instead of discerning what I truly wanted and then being willing to do what it took to get what I wanted, really wanted, deep down. Perhaps you, too, have lived under the admonition to “be practical” or you squelch your desires before they even have a breath with phrases like “it isn’t realistic.” How do you know what is possible if you don’t allow yourself to even know what you want?

Too many of us decide what we want based on what we were told we should want. Every day, I talk with clients who, after completing medical school or law school, have practiced a profession for decades, because that’s what their parents thought they should be doing. Or men and women with MBA’s who tell me that following their dreams now would be a waste of all that education. Or that the debt they’ve amassed creating the illusion of external success has them feeling trapped. I am always amazed how people seemingly at the pinnacle of their careers, are secretly unhappy and wonder why. These are wonderful people who have houses or cars or activities or entire lives that are founded on having what the culture has defined as markers of success. Yet, they are caught in the meat grinder of wanting what cannot fill them up.

See if this you can relate to this scenario. You and a friend are meeting for dinner while you’re away on business. Your friend suggests a restaurant that you don’t know anything about but he says got great reviews. When you arrive at the restaurant, it’s impressive, but on your first scan of the menu, nothing jumps out at you. Disappointed, you take a second look, deciding to choose something from what is available. While your stomach will be full at the end of the meal, and surely you’ll have enjoyed conversation with your friend, and can brag at home about going to such a fine restaurant, you end up grabbing a candy bar from the mini-bar back in your hotel room as you flick on the TV to watch The Daily Show.

Now imagine this scenario. Your friend asks you what you’d like to eat for dinner and you tell him you have been craving eggplant parmagiano. He suggests a little Italian bistro near your hotel. You order the eggplant parm. Your mouth is delighted, your tummy hums and you and your friend linger long into the night catching up on each other’s lives. As you tuck into your hotel room that night, you feel satisfied and notice the smile on your face and how it’s coming from deep inside you.

What’s the difference? You knew what you wanted and when you got it, it satisfied more than just an externally motivated part of you.

That deeper satisfaction comes from aligning our external actions with our inner goals. It is the secret to your success. Those of us who are fulfilling our inner goals have what seems like effortless success. We are using our talents and expressing our values. But getting to those inner goals requires looking beyond status, power and other people’s opinions. It requires looking beyond what’s simply available to choose from and trying to make yourself happy with it and, instead, delving into your own heart’s wanting. Maybe this year, for Valentine’s Day, you might give yourself or your sweetheart a chance to live a heartfelt life. I have put together some ideas here.

I frequently ask my clients questions like these:

  • What is the legacy you want to leave behind marking your life in the world?
  • If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
  • What would you do if all jobs paid the same and had the same prestige?
  • When in your life have you been most joy-filled and engaged?
  • What is your secret dream?
  • What are the barriers to combining happy and successful in your life?

In April, I will be hosting a 3-day workshop in Scottsdale, Arizona called Tapping Your Inner Wealth. This workshop will be focused on working in person with a small group of men and women to identify your inner success and make it shine as your outer wealth. If you are unable to join me live in Scottsdale, I will be launching an eight week online telecourse in May to help you Turn on Your Own Tap of Success or you can schedule a phone session with me by clicking on the link in the sidebar at the upper right of this column.

Before you decide that what you want is impossible for yourself, I ask you to reframe that statement and see if really the way to read the word impossible is “I’m possible”.

The Risks of Using Call Waiting

“Denise, there’s a call on line 1 for you.  He wouldn’t give me his name and said ‘you’d know what he was calling about’.”

“Can’t you see I have my Do Not Disturb light on?”  I replied.  “Tell whoever it is I’m busy and I’ll call him back later.”  My assistant answered that the caller said he would hold until I was ready.  I hated sales people who were that obnoxious and couldn’t hear “No” and I brushed her off impatiently with a “Fine, he can hold until I’m good and ready then!”

I went back to the project I was working on, aggravated at yet another interruption.  I was behind the eight ball already on this day, with a to-do list longer than my arm and the end of the month looming ahead of me.

Years ago, my husband had asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  Only half-jokingly, I had answered “Eight extra hours a day so I can catch up on what I always have undone at the end of each day!”  He bought me an Ipod instead, commenting that if I had more hours I would likely just try to fit more in on my schedule.   I remembered that I needed to try to find time to upload some music for relaxation onto my Ipod and wondered if there was a teenager to whom I could outsource that task.

As I was turning out the light to leave the office, late that night, I noticed that the hold light was blinking on my phone.  I picked it up and said impatiently, “This is Denise.  Who is this?”

The voice on the other end of the line said, “It’s your life.  I’ve been waiting for you.”

I dropped the phone and started thinking about how long I had been avoiding this call.

For years now, everything else came first, that is … everything that felt like an obligation or a distraction.  Each time I heard the whisper of this call, I filled my hours with something – another project, another committee obligation, another anything – just so I wouldn’t have to sit with the voice of this caller who wanted me to look at the meaning of my life and why I was here.  I avoided this call because I was afraid I would have to do something about what I heard if I listened.

How does the call of your life haunt you?  Does it come from inside you on Sunday night when you start dreading your return to the office.  Is it the pain in your heart when you hear your six year old daughter cry because you’re leaving on another business trip that will have you away from home more nights instead of tucking her in and reading her The Velveteen Rabbit.  Maybe your calling sings the familiar song “I Should Do Something” when you read about the people who have lost everything in the latest weather disaster and you wish you could get that song out of your head and just get back to enjoying American Idol.

Calls are serious business.  Responding to them is how we make something worthwhile out of our lives. Listen here to a recording on finding the courage to listen to your call.

Not every call is a blockbuster, star-making epic.  One or two of them may take up most of our time, but other more urgent calls weave their way into our lives from time to time.  Some of them, like being a nurturing, attentive parent or riding out the illness of a friend who needs our extra attention, engage our minds and our hearts and do not earn us accolades or cover photos on national magazines.  Others draw us deep beneath the noise of social conventions and impact lives in unimaginable ways.

It is neither the duration nor the visibility of the call that matters.  A life-changing call engages your ability to listen to both the subtle and obvious messages that rise within you and to see the nuance of something transcendent in the role before you.  You answer the call through your willingness to move beyond merely filling the role or carrying out the duties a task requires by choosing to imbue your intention and your courage into your actions.

When you get serious about answering your call, mentors and supporters will appear.  They will guide you with teachable moments and they will appeal to your innate human longing to be more than what you presently are.  As you move toward embodying your calling, they will help you draw upon your courage to step into the potential that sounds quietly in your dreams.

You have a choice, to just live your life, work a job, and fulfill a role or to commit to answering a series of worthy calls within this life of yours.  Listen carefully to the whispers and shouts of your callings and answer them with all the passion and cleverness at your disposal.  Use every means of introspection and mentorship available to you to help you find the courage to answer the call to make a difference – both where you find yourself now and in the place where your calling takes you.

After all, there’s a call for you on hold right now, all you have to do is answer it.

I work as a mentor to men and women ready to listen for their calling.  Schedule a complementary session or listen to a free sample of my new e-learning program on finding your true calling.


Playing Your Part

I grew up in suburban Detroit. My dad was a barber. Most of his customers were autoworkers. When Detroit churned out lots of cars, the auto workers were flush and got regular haircuts. When Detroit was lean and laid off auto workers, they let their wives cut their hair or wore it longer. Our family’s prosperity was intimately tied to the auto workers’.

Thousands of workers are struggling to learn new trades or relocating to another city in search of similar work, slowly realizing that they are unlikely to earn the same wages, with the same benefits, in a new career. Many resist this message and hold out hope that their industry will rebound or that somehow they will be able to keep doing the same work they’ve been doing – in some cases for their entire adult life.

As outsiders, it’s easy for us to look at these workers and say, “Get with it. Move on, learn a new trade and take a different job or move out of Detroit to where there’s work.” It’s easy for us to say it, we’re not them.  But in many ways, we are them.  Almost all of our industries are changing.  Retooling is key to surviving and prospering.

After a dozen years practicing law, I left my practice, bought a motor home and decided to travel focusing on understanding what other people do for a living. Some of it was just plain fun but a lot of it was my personal exploration – deciding what I would do next with my life.

I went to the local pancake supper or town meeting wherever I was and talked to the local people. I asked whoever had the most interesting job, “I’d love to see what it’s like to do what you do. If I agree to come every day for a week, and do whatever you need one, will you take me on as your unpaid assistant/apprentice?” Usually, I got a yes!

 The first time I tried this was with a dairy farmer who answered “Yup. And wear yer boots!” It was a total blast. For one week, I showed up and did whatever needed to be done – hand fed the calves, milked the cows, did bookkeeping or drove the tractor full of manure out to the compost field. I’ve been told that being a lawyer had prepared me well to dump a big tractor full of you-know-what somewhere!

 I had several years of these interesting experiences – a potato farm in Maine, a lobster boat in Nova Scotia, a paint store in North Carolina, a catfish processing plant in Georgia, a Hobby Lobby craft store in Texas. What I learned was how important it is for everyone in this country to do the best job they can at whatever they are employed at. I also learned how undervalued many of these people and their labors are.

Coming from a purely intellectual job, where I had been highly compensated for my perceived knowledge, it was easy to fall out of touch with what makes this country run every day and to think my work was somehow more valuable or important. Without the dairy farmer, the truck driver who brought the milk to the store, the guy who stocked the cooler, the woman who ran the cashier or the men who made and installed the checkout stand and floors, I’d be out of luck for my breakfast cereal and milk fix. Each of them does their job with pride and skill and our lives are the better for each of their labors.

Asking, “What else CAN I do?” is a step in discovering precisely how our tangible talents can be used in different ways. Use my life as an example. I could have joined another law firm, or I could have gone “in house” with a client. Or I could have taught law or written or researched. In ferreting out my talents, I discerned that I am a connector, an educator, a developer, a dream builder. Those things came from building a regional law practice over a decade, leading a team of lawyers and guiding my clients to resolutions. I am also a negotiator, a strategic thinker, a writer, a critic, a team builder, an advocate and (ask my husband) a strong willed woman who can argue a point. I realized that building something was important to me, I get a kick out of getting things going and both thinking “big picture, long term” and implementing the small day to day minutiae. It was important that my next role had lots of people contact, a way to bring different views together, ways to help people think differently and a little bit of theatre – I liked the drama of the courtroom and the presence of being in front of people.

I have spent most of the past dozen years guiding people into discovering their authentic callings and reframing the choices for their lives.  It lets me use many of my talents and helps me to develop others like learning how to be of service. Was it what I envisioned when I left my law practice over a decade ago? Nope, not even close. I was originally thinking I might run a children’s bookstore or open a B&B in Italy! But I was open to opportunity.

Like a laid off auto worker, you can just comb the remaining factories hoping to find identical work in the same town at similar pay, or you can start thinking really creatively about what you are talented at and passionate about and how it could fit into a completely different industry or geography.

 There is a lesson for all of us in what furloughed blue collar factory workers have known for a long time – your job isn’t who you are, your job is what you do to earn money to support your family and entertain yourself. When you’re pouring the Cheerios into your bowl tomorrow morning, be thankful that someone else didn’t think those jobs were “beneath” them.